VALENCIA – Sergio Canales scored an early goal to give Valencia a 1-0 home win against Granada in the sixth round of the Spanish league on Saturday.
Canales, on loan from Real Madrid, struck a low shot from 25 yards (meters) that skidded into the far corner in the fourth minute.
The win lifted Valencia to 13 points, one ahead of Real Betis, which hosts Levante on Sunday. Malaga can draw level with Valencia atop the standings with a win in the late match Saturday against Getafe.
Also Sunday, Barcelona visits Sporting Gijon and Real Madrid travels to Espanyol.
In other Saturday results, Hernan Lopez' late header earned Villarreal a 2-2 draw against Zaragoza, Osasuna had a 2-2 draw at home against Mallorca, and Racing Santander drew 1-1 with Rayo Vallecano.
Despite taking an early lead against Granada, Valencia struggled to convert possession into goals after Canales' opener.
Roberto Soldado, looking to add to his six goals so far this season, had a flicked header saved by Granada goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez in the 13th minute and Canales shot wide with an effort from the edge of the box soon after.
Valencia fullback Jeremy Mathieu raced forward and shot wide with another early chance and the pressure continued after the break with Pablo Piatti stubbing a weak shot wide from close range.
Alexandre Geijo made an opportunity for himself, cutting across the defense and unleashing a low shot from the edge of the box in the 63rd, but the ball veered wide.
Granada improved as the second half wore on and could have punished Valencia's inefficiency when Inigo Lopez hit the bar.
Valencia had a golden opportunity to increase the margin in stoppage time, but Fernandez saved at point0-blank range from Jonas after Soldado's square pass.
Earlier Saturday, Zaragoza twice took the lead at the Madrigal Stadium, with Luis Garcia scoring in the 34th minute and Pablo Barrera re-establishing the advantage just before halftime.
Giuseppe Rossi chipped a penalty to level the scores for the first time in the 41st minute and Perez found space at a corner to ensure a share of the points for Villarreal in the 84th, four minutes after Maurizio Lanzaro was sent off for Zaragoza.
Elsewhere, Tomer Hemed scored two penalties as Mallorca rallied to a 2-2 draw at Osasuna in Miguel Angel Nadal's first match as caretaker coach following the resignation of Danish legend Michael Laudrup on Tuesday.
Raul Garcia got both goals for Osasuna.
In Santander, Raul Tamudo gave Rayo Vallecano the lead against Racing in the 20th minute, but the home side equalized through Adrian in the 59th.